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Good Samaritans save driver after vehicle crashes into brook

Union Leader Correspondent

April 18. 2013 4:15PM
A Londonderry firefighter in water rescue gear looked on as workers pulled a car from Beaver Brook Thursday afternoon. The unidentified driver was pulled from the car by a group of bystanders. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

LONDONDERRY — A group of anonymous bystanders have been hailed as heroes after pulling an unconscious female motorist from her car after it flipped over the guard rail and rolled down a 10-foot embankment into Beaver Brook Thursday afternoon.

Emergency crews responded to the reports of a motor vehicle crash on Gilcreast Road near Charleston Avenue shortly after 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Upon arrival, police and fire officials discovered a black Toyota sedan on its roof and partially under water, with the female victim regaining consciousness on the shore, acting Fire Chief Darren O'Brien said.

Police identified the vehicle's driver as Laurie Donofrio, 43, of Windham.

According to fire officials, the vehicle was traveling toward Route 102 at the time of the crash. The initial investigation indicated that Donofrio suffered a medical issue causing her to lose control of her car, hit a guardrail and flip over the embankment, landing in the middle of the brook.

A witness told fire officials that Donofrio was unresponsive and wasn't breathing after bystanders broke one of the car's windows and pulled her onto the shore.

Another bystander reportedly performed CPR on Donofrio.

"By the time we got here, she was awake and was coughing up water," O'Brien said. "She appeared relatively alert but was somewhat disoriented."

Donofrio reportedly told fire crews her husband had been driving the vehicle at the time of the crash, leading fire officials to promptly put on their wetsuits and begin an extensive search of the surrounding waters.

Soon after, however, it was confirmed that Donofrio's husband, Paul, was safely at work and wasn't involved in the crash.

Donofrio was taken to Parkland Medical Center in Derry where she was being treated for injuries described as not life-threatening.

"Those bystanders were the heroes today," O'Brien said. "If it weren't for their actions, there probably would have been a significantly different outcome."

Since a small amount of fuel leaked into the brook, emergency crews set up a hazardous material collection device downstream, and the state DES has been notified of the incident.

Staff from Bachmann's Towing used hydraulic tools to drag the car out of the creek bed and fasten it to a tow truck. The vehicle sustained heavy front-end and side damage.

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